Steve Perry’s Role In The Attempted Corporate Coup In Journey

The music industry is no stranger to controversy, may it be between two bands, a band and a corporation, or among the band members. The conflicts and disagreements between band members have led to legal disputes and lawsuits since it is not uncommon for former bandmates to turn their backs on each other and refuse to resolve the matters privately.

While the band members, frequently fueled by massive egos, are ready to fight each other over just about anything, financial matters are usually one of the most common motivations behind lawsuits. The enduring rock band Journey also had to deal with a similar situation when two bandmates filed a lawsuit against two other members.

Neal Schon And Jonathan Cain Sued Ross Valory And Steve Smith

The control over the band’s financial sources became an issue for Journey members, as it had for many other bands in music history. In March 2020, Journey’s Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain announced that they had fired longtime bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith. They claimed Valory and Smith allegedly tried using Journey’s name to fund their retirement.

Then, Schon and Cain not only kicked Valory and Smith out of the band but also turned it into a legal battle by suing them in the Superior Court of Contra Costa County, California, alleging that they tried to launch a coup to gain control over the band’s mark. The suit sought over $10 million in damages, claiming that Smith and Valory held a shareholder meeting and launched their plan to oust Cain and Schon from their leadership positions at Nightmare Productions.

According to the allegations, Valory and Smith believed that they could control the Journey name and receive a share of the band’s touring revenue without contributing anything to the band. The suit also alleged that Smith and Valory acted greedily by pushing aside the band’s interests. Yet, the two expelled band members had a surprise supporter who stood by them.

Steve Perry Sided With Fired Bassist Ross Valory And Drummer Steve Smith

The lawsuit filed by Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain stated that when Nightmare Productions held a board meeting with Ross Valory and Steve Smith, the band’s former lead singer Steve Perry and former Journey manager Herbie Herbert were also there. The suit also claimed that both of them supported Valory and Smith in their dispute with their former bandmates.

Although Journey’s lawyers claimed that this was all part of an attack against Schon and Cain to allow other board members to profit from the band’s name whether or not they were still involved, Steve Perry apparently didn’t see it that way. However, the alleged coup didn’t work anyway because Nightmare Productions didn’t hold Journey’s trademarks.

Following the lawsuit, Ross Valory made a statement saying that the board member meeting was not a part of an effort to take over the band’s mark but rather to protect it. The bassist then countersued his ex-bandmates for breach of contract and emotional distress. Later in 2021, Journey members announced that they reached a settlement in the legal battle that lasted over a year. Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain acknowledged Ross Valory and Steve Smith’s contributions to the band and wished them success in their future career.